44 episodes

Conversations on governance with leading social scientists around the world. Run by the Centre for the Study of Governance and Society at King's College London.

The Governance Podcas‪t‬ Centre for the Study of Governance and Society

    • Social Sciences

Conversations on governance with leading social scientists around the world. Run by the Centre for the Study of Governance and Society at King's College London.

    Should the State Recognise Marriage? In Conversation with Clare Chambers

    Should the State Recognise Marriage? In Conversation with Clare Chambers

    In the first episode of the Counterintuitive Series on the Governance Podcast, Professor Clare Chambers (University of Cambridge) defends the ideal of the marriage free state. She argues that for reasons of justice and equality, the state should not legally recognise - and therefore, privilege - any particular form of marriage. And until it ceases to do so, we must consider its actions unjust.

    • 38 min
    Political Parties And the Health of Democracy: In Conversation with Ian Shapiro

    Political Parties And the Health of Democracy: In Conversation with Ian Shapiro

    Why are political parties important for liberal democracy? Which institutional reforms can alleviate the burdens of globalisation on the working class? Join us on this episode of the Governance Podcast for a conversation between Steven Klein (King’s College London) and Ian Shapiro (Yale) on the major governance challenges facing advanced democracies and how they might be solved.
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    Read the Books
    The Wolf at the Door: The Menace of Economic Insecurity and How to Fight It by Ian Shapiro and Michael J. Graetz
    Responsible Parties: Saving Democracy From Itself by Ian Shapiro and Frances McCall Rosenbluth 
    The Guest
    Ian Shapiro is Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He has written widely and influentially on democracy, justice, and the methods of social inquiry. A native of South Africa, he received his J.D. from the Yale Law School and his Ph.D from the Yale Political Science Department where he has taught since 1984 and served as chair from 1999 to 2004. Shapiro also served as Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies from 2004-2019.
    He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Shapiro is a past fellow of the Carnegie Corporation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Cape Town, Keio University in Tokyo, and Nuffield College, Oxford. 
    His most recent books are The Real World of Democratic Theory (Princeton University Press, 2012) Politics Against Domination (Harvard University Press, 2016), and, with Frances Rosenbluth, Responsible Parties: Saving Democracy from Itself (Yale University Press, 2018). His current research concerns the relations between democracy and the distribution of income and wealth.
    Skip Ahead
    0:42: I wanted to begin with your 2018 book on Responsible Parties: Saving Democracy From Itself, which you co-authored with Frances McCall Rosenbluth. It’s a spirited defence of the importance of parties for democracy. Before we get into your argument, I wanted to see if you could say a little about why you think political parties are so vital for democracy, as well as why you think their value tends to be overlooked or neglected in popular debates.
    5:33: This is a question of democracy bypassing elections altogether. Another issue you deal with in the book is debates about democratising political parties themselves. So some people say that political parties are necessary evils, or they have these positive effects but they can also lead to capture by elites within the party, and so what we need is good democracy within the parties. And in the book you’re also sceptical of that—could you tell us more about your worry?
    9:24: This raises a really interesting puzzle which you don’t entirely address in the book, which is, if this is so harmful to parties, why do they do it?
    13:30: I think another interesting aspect is the decline of the traditional sources of mobilisation for political parties. So one thing I wanted to ask is, there are two dimensions to political parties—one is the coordination function, which is bundling issues together, building those compromises, integrating various interest groups—but parties also exist to get people to vote and to mobilise their constituencies. If you look at the debate in the last two primaries in the Democratic party and in the UK, it seems like one of the issues is how you balance the coordination function w

    • 47 min
    Self-Governance in Public Policy: In Conversation with Simon Kaye

    Self-Governance in Public Policy: In Conversation with Simon Kaye

    Join us on this episode of the governance podcast between Simon Kaye and Mark Pennington for a conversation on the impact of Elinor Ostrom's work on public policy. Simon Kaye discusses his latest report for the New Local on how the ideas of self-governance and community power can transform public services in the UK.
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    Read the Report
    Think Big, Act Small: Elinor Ostrom's Radical Vision for Community Power
    The Guest
    Having been awarded a PhD in democratic theory from the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London in 2015, Simon Kaye has worked as a researcher and educator in academia and think tanks, with roles at UCL’s Constitution Unit, The Hansard Society, Queen Mary, and King’s College London. His last role was as Research Director at the Project for Modern Democracy, running projects on Whitehall reform and the rebalancing of UK economic policy.  
    Simon has written and spoken on a diversity of subjects, including democracy and voting systems, localism and self-governance, political economy, historical methods, constitutions, conspiracy theories, and post-truth. He has published work in venues including History and Theory, Critical Review, European Political Science, and The Fabian Society. He has also penned articles for popular publications such as The Independent, Politics.co.uk, CityMetric, and CapX. He has contributed to several podcasts to talk about his research, presented at festivals and international conferences, participated in public lectures and panel debates, won several competitive academic fellowships, and appeared on BBC News as a political commentator. 
    Simon’s research at New Local is focused around the Community Paradigm, drawing on his expertise in democracy and political economy. His major projects include work on mutual aid groups, the new working practices and relationships that emerged during the 2020 pandemic, and the landmark research of Nobel Prize-winner Elinor Ostrom into governance systems and community management of common resources. New Local’s Ostrom project is a direct development of the original Community Paradigm and forms the intellectual grounding for much of our work on public service reform and the need for more autonomous and empowered communities.  
    Skip Ahead
    00:26: the New Local have recently produced a very interesting policy report which tries to apply some of the ideas of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom to look at aspects of a possible policy reform agenda in the UK and perhaps other countries. Those of you who follow our podcast will know that the Ostrom’s work is quite important at our Centre because of their focus on the relationship between formal and informal institutions of governance. So Simon, welcome to the podcast. I wonder if we could start off by you giving a bit of background on what you do at New Local.
    02:25: You’ve produced with New Local what I think is an excellent report on Ostrom. I wonder if you could say more about why and how the New Local has become aware of the Ostroms' work?
    06:40: If we think about some of the ideas in the report, as part of this community paradigm, you are pushing an agenda which is emphasizing this idea of decentralisation, of communities taking control of how public services are delivered, or assets are managed—the idea of communities having the space to craft their own hybrids between communities, markets and states. What would you say to the idea that in the UK people have been arguing for decentralisation for many years, there’s lots of complaints in the British government about over-centralisation,

    • 45 min
    Prisons and the Origins of Social Order: In Conversation with David Skarbek

    Prisons and the Origins of Social Order: In Conversation with David Skarbek

    David Skarbek (Brown University) describes his ethnographic work on prison governance as a historical analogy to the emergence of states. Join us in this episode of the Governance Podcast led by John Meadowcroft (King’s College London) for a vibrant discussion on how governance emerges (or doesn’t) in different social landscapes, from prisons and gulags to clans and nation-states.
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    The Guest
    David Skarbek is Associate Professor of Political Science at Brown University. His research examines how extralegal governance institutions form, operate, and evolve. He has published extensively on the informal institutions that govern life in prisons in California and around the globe.
    His work has appeared in leading journals in political science, economics, and criminology, including in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Journal of Law, Economics & Organization, and Journal of Criminal Justice. 
    His book, The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System (Oxford University Press), received the American Political Science Association’s 2016 William H. Riker Award for the best book in political economy in the previous three years. It was also awarded the 2014 Best Publication Award from the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime and was shortlisted for the British Sociological Association’s 2014 Ethnography Award.
    His work has been featured widely in national and international media outlets, such as the Atlantic, BBC, Business Insider, the Economist, Forbes, the Independent, and the Times.
    Skip Ahead
    00:38: David, you’re well known for writing a book on prison gangs in California and America called The Social Order of the Underworld. Just to begin, tell us a little bit about that book.
    2:01: You mentioned that prison gangs are often organized on racial lines. Why is that the case?
    4:10: So race is a convenient way of organizing a large group of people. Is that what you’re arguing?
    4:34: Does that mean this has changed over time? So as a prison population got bigger in America, gangs organized upon racial lines have become more important?
    7:44: You mentioned that the convict code, if you like, was informal. Would you see gangs as providing more formal governance?
    9:15: Would it be fair or is it a stretch to suggest that this is like a prison constitution?
    10:53: One thing when you read the book that’s quite striking is there are lots of vivid descriptions of violence that occurs in prison. How do you reconcile that evidence with what you describe as some sort of order?
    13:55: I imagine that the question that comes to many people’s minds when it comes to prison gangs, is what would happen if they went to prison? Would they have to join a prison gang, and if the didn’t, what would be the consequences?
    15:26: So it’d be fair to say you cannot be a solitary individual, you cannot be a holdout, so to speak.
    16:15: Could we then imagine that prisons are close to what we might think of the state of nature in social science?
    17:05: This brings us to your latest work in this area, which I think is going to be called the Puzzle of Prison Order. How does it extend your previous work?
    20:03: Maybe you can say a little more about English prisons. One senses that they don’t have that kind of gang organization that we observe in California. Why should that be the case?
    23:39: One challenge this book takes on is trying to unpack all these different factors, all these different possibilities. So I guess one common sense question would be, lookin

    • 50 min
    Poverty, Informality and Politics in India: In Conversation with Tariq Thachil

    Poverty, Informality and Politics in India: In Conversation with Tariq Thachil

    Slums are home to 850 million people worldwide, making them prime territory for distributive politics. In this episode of the Governance Podcast, Tariq Thachil (Vanderbilt University) sits down with Irena Schneider (King’s College London) to discuss the counterintuitive ways in which governance emerges amidst poverty and informality in Indian cities.
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    The Guest
    Tariq Thachil is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on political parties and political behavior, social movements, and ethnic politics, with a regional focus on South Asia.
    His first book examines how elite parties can use social services to win mass support, through a study of Hindu nationalism in India, and was published by Cambridge University Press (Studies in Comparative Politics) in 2014. This project has won numerous awards, including the 2015 Gregory Luebbert Award for best book in comparative politics, the 2015 Leon Epstein Award for best book on political parties, and 2010 Gabriel Almond Award for best dissertation in comparative politics, all from the American Political Science Association. It also won the 2010 Sardar Patel Prize for best dissertation on modern India in the humanities and social sciences.
    His current research focuses on the political consequences of urbanization, and draws on extensive qualitative and quantitative research among poor migrants in Indian cities. An article from this project, coauthored with Adam Auerbach, received the 2018 Heinz I. Eulau Award for the best article published in the American Political Science Review in the previous calendar year.
    Skip Ahead
    00:58: As a political scientist, what prompted you to take an interest in the politics of Indian slums?
    1:53: You talk a lot about machine politics in India—It’s a core element of your book. Historically when we think about machine politics, you also mention in your book that the big examples are US democratic party machines in New York and Chicago which emerged in the 19th century by giving out material benefits to poor European immigrants in exchange for political support. We’re seeing similar trends happening across the developing world today. Masses of migrants are flooding to cities, living in slums, and end up being governed by powerful machines. But you’re observing something uniquely different about how politics emerges within Indian slums. Quite specifically, you’re noticing that the process is a lot more democratic than we thought. What have you been observing? What’s counterintuitive? 
    7:56: That’s really interesting because it really has to do with this unique competitive environment. Why is it so competitive? Why is no one able to take over and become a boss in some of these Indian slums?
    11:23: You argue that slum residents don’t really choose leaders on the basis of petty gifts or cash. Clientelism doesn’t boil down to something so simple. What criteria do residents really use to choose their leaders? 
    14:13: The picture you’re painting is that slum residents are much more empowered to choose among competing brokers rather than being passive or manipulated rule takers. How much power do they really have over their local brokers and local politicians? Can they really hold their brokers accountable in ways that would mimic what would happen under a formal democratic institution?
    18:54: One of your most interesting findings is that when people are choosing their slum leaders and brokers, they’re not necessarily using the basis of caste or ethnicity—and a lot of what really matters is thin

    • 46 min
    Womanhood in Tocqueville's Democracy: In Conversation with Sarah Wilford

    Womanhood in Tocqueville's Democracy: In Conversation with Sarah Wilford

    Alexis de Tocqueville argued that American democracy was rooted in associational life. What role did women play in building this capacity for association? In this episode of the Governance Podcast, Dr Sarah Wilford (University of the Andes) sits down with Dr Irena Schneider (King's College London) to discuss how the domestic sphere shapes free societies and stems the tide of democratic despotism. 
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    The Guest
    Dr Sarah Wilford is an assistant professor of politics at the University of the Andes in Santiago. Her research focuses on the political thought of Alexis de Tocqueville regarding family, women, and democratic conditions. Other research interests include the relationship between religion and liberty in Tocqueville, womanhood during the nineteenth century, and the use of Tocqueville in later twentieth and twenty-first-century political theory and political science. She received her PhD in Politics from King's College London in 2018.
    Skip Ahead
    00:51: Tocqueville is a very popular writer to turn to nowadays, particularly when we think about modern questions of the loss of associationalism, virtuous citizenship, and community values. But we don't often think about Tocqueville in terms of gender and the domestic sphere. That's where you have been working and I wanted to ask just to get started, how did you get interested in the gender angle on Tocqueville? 
    3:13: To delve into the details, what exactly is the role of womanhood and the domestic sphere in Tocqueville's work?
    07:23: My first reaction is-- you talked about paternal authority and that being a prime element in democratic citizenship, and being the first school of citizenship. What about the mother and womanhood in general? How does that contribute to the raising of virtuous, democratic citizens?
    9:30: To delve further into the question of authority, both maternal, paternal, and the domestic sphere, it seems almost like an oxymoron to say that respect for authority leads to more democratic norms and civil society. How does that transition play out in Tocqueville?
    11:30: Tocqueville really is seen as a scholar of civil society, of associationalism. We throw around these terms but we're not often very clear by what Tocqueville meant by them. When he observed these things in American society, what was he talking about? What does governance and associationalism mean for Tocqueville in this sense?
    17:21: A lot of times, when it comes to Tocqueville, we hear the term, 'the habits of the heart and mind.' A lot of the network that exist within civil society are driven by people's common acceptance or commitment to certain values or beliefs or ideas. That is a kind of glue that ties society together and is generated within the domestic sphere. Can you talk a little more about the habits of the heart and mind that a self-governing citizenry is supposed to have?
    21:08: Tocqueville has been used and appropriated by many modern scholars in social science, from thinkers like Robert Putnam to Vincent Ostrom, and others. And they often use Tocqueville to address modern issues or crises of democracy. You've certainly worked a little bit on how they interpreted Tocqueville. What did they get right, and what did they get wrong?
    28:04: What is your contribution on these perspectives? Are they hitting the point? Are they being accurately Tocquevillian, or are they misunderstanding parts of his argument?
    37:44: I think part of the difficulty in transmitting this more 19th century perspective into the 21st is that society doesn't really look the same as when Tocqueville observed it. You talked a lot about

    • 54 min

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